How to Extend Car Battery Life

How to extend car battery life

How to Extend Car Battery Life

There’s nothing worse than pulling into a cold parking lot and finding your car won’t start. While there can be several reasons why your vehicle won’t start, a common cause is a dead battery. You can always start the car in such situations, but it is still best to avoid them. And the best way to do this is to take good care of your battery.

But batteries don’t last forever, and eventually, you’ll need to replace your car battery. But if you take care of it, you can maximize battery life, save some money in the long run, and not worry about finding yourself in a dark, Chilly parking lot and a non-starting automobile.

How long do car batteries last?

Car batteries usually last you four to six years. However, some factors can affect the life of a car or caravan battery, such as weather conditions, the type of vehicle, or even the way the car is driven.

Drive longer distances more often

Your car’s alternator is what keeps the battery charged and charges it while you’re driving. However, according to the Motor Trade Association, frequent short drives could actually contribute to a shorter lifespan of car batteries. Car batteries recharge over longer distances and will be fully charged after eight hours of use, while the alternator has more time to recharge. If the battery is not fully charged, heavy crystalline deposits can form on the negative plates and can actually prevent the battery from charging properly.

This doesn’t mean you have to drive your car for eight hours a day, but it does mean you should be careful about how many electric assists controls you use in your car. The car’s lights, heater fan, and radio can drain the battery they rely on.

Keep the battery at a neutral temperature

Batteries can usually withstand most types of temperatures, but extreme heat (and extreme cold) can cause problems. High temperatures can cause battery fluid to evaporate, which can actually cause overcharging problems. This actually reduces the life of your battery.

Colder temperatures will actually cause self-discharge, which will eventually drain the battery. Battery electrolytes can even freeze and cause internal and external problems in the battery case. If your car will be sitting idle during the winter months, it would be safe to find an area with a neutral temperature for the car.

Invest in a battery manager

Do you lock up your car for the colder months, or maybe even your boat? Idle batteries can really drain, so you’ll want to keep your battery alive during the winter months. Batteries should be charged every six weeks to keep them healthy. However, this does not mean that the battery should sit on the charger, as this could actually shorten its life. Instead, the battery manager helps you monitor the battery voltage and automatically adjusts the charge to avoid undercharging and overcharging.

Clean the car battery

It is important to look for corrosion on the battery. Corrosion is when there is a white powder around the nodes or terminals of the battery. You can clean the clamps with baking soda, water, and a non-metallic brush. It is especially important that you do this when your battery is not corroded. Corrosion means it’s probably time for a new battery, but keeping it clean could extend its life.

Maintenance-free vs. sustainable batteries

Sometimes the batteries die, but it is not necessary to replace them. It may just need a charge, or if it’s an old battery nearing the end of its life, it may not be able to hold a charge, in which case it needs to be replaced.

There are two types of car batteries, maintenance-free and maintenance-free. Most cars on the road today have the latter. Sustainable batteries, also called maintenance-free and wet batteries, have removable filler caps on top of the battery.

As a sustainable battery discharges and charges, the battery liquid turns into a gas and evaporates. This requires topping up the battery from time to time. Summer heat can also cause battery fluid to evaporate. These types of batteries are more common in boats and commercial vehicles today.

Maintenance-free batteries are designed to maintain the liquid level, so you don’t have to worry about topping up the electrolyte inside. It also lasts longer.

Because both types of batteries contain battery fluid, a mixture of sulfuric acid and distilled water (called electrolytes), they must be handled with care.

How to test car battery voltage

You’ll know it’s time to test the battery if it’s a vehicle The easiest way to test your car battery is with a multimeter, voltmeter, or specific car battery tester. Open the hood of the vehicle, connect the positive red connector of the multimeter to the positive terminal on the battery, then connect the negative terminal to the negative terminal. You may need to remove the protective cover on the battery terminals.

Connect the tester to the multimeter, then turn it on and select voltage mode. A fully charged battery will read 12.6 volts, and anything between 12.2 and 12.6 volts for a dead battery is an acceptable range. Lower than this probably means you need to charge or replace the battery.

Next, you need to test the battery on the crank cycle of the car. When you first turn on the car, the voltage will drop for a short while, but it shouldn’t drop below 10 volts. If so, it means the battery is weak and will need to be charged or replaced. Finally, while the car is operating, you should check the battery voltage level. At that point, the voltage meter should read between 14 and 14.5 volts.

How to test a sustainable battery

If your car has a maintenance-free battery, you may need to test the electrolyte in each cell. You will need a battery hydrometer for this. Open the lids on the six cells on top of the battery to get started. Insert the end of the hydrometer into each and squeeze the ball to draw the solution into the tester. Carefully hold the tester horizontally and record the reading. Spray the solution back into the same cell.

Testers are calibrated assuming the battery temperature is 80 degrees F. Add 0.04 to each reading for every 10 degrees above 80 and subtract 0.04 for every 10 degrees below. If the cell value differs from the others by 0.05 or more, replace the battery. Battery voltage should be 1.265 volts or above when fully charged. If all readings show satisfactory or low (1.200 is low) but consistent, recharge the battery.

In some cases, a paintable battery will have an indicator on the top that glows green when the water level is good and fully charged and turns dark when the battery needs fluid or is low. If it is yellow, either the battery is damaged or the battery fluid level is low.

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